Staff were exposed to potentially lethal asbestos fibres for nearly five years, a court has heard.
Rochdale-based re-upholstery business Mansfield Soft Furnishings Ltd and firm director David Mansfield have been fined £30,000 and £10,000 respectively at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.
The furniture-restoring firm had moved to a mill in 2007, creating a mezzanine storage area in the roof’s eaves.
Employees regularly stored foam for furniture on the beams and underside of the roof, which it was later discovered harboured asbestos.
Small particles of asbestos dust were released into the air.
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Safety inspector made asbestos claims
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector visited the firm in June 2012 on a separate matter.
The inspector noticed, however, that the material on the roof of the mezzanine looked like sprayed asbestos. The inspector issued an Improvement Notice after finding Mansfield had not undertaken an asbestos survey.
A later survey showed roof asbestos was present, and fibres had probably dispersed throughout the mill.
The HSE served a Prohibition Notice in July 2012 prohibiting access to the mill until it had been decontaminated. But Mansfield and a colleague re-entered the mill later that day to remove furniture for delivery, breaking the notice’s terms.
Mansfield Soft Furnishings Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers and failing to comply with the Prohibition Notice.
David Mansfield, 48, of Heywood, admitted that he purposefully breached the Prohibition Notice.
They were ordered to pay £20,000 costs between them.
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